The Perfect Score

REVIEW: The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea


As their sixth grade year begins, these five kids have a lot going on:

  • Gavin loves football but isn’t so hot on school. His dad dropped out to take over the family business, so Gavin thinks that is his destiny, too, unless football gives him another choice.
  • Randi’s whole life is about gymnastics. And early on she enjoyed that. But now she’s practicing 6 days a week, including three hours on school nights. But she’s somehow supposed to keep her grades up, too. And her mom wants her to ace the CSAs (state standardized tests) so she can be placed in the highest levels in 7th grade.
  • Natalie is the teacher’s pet of the class. She’s never really had friends before but things may be starting to change this year. Once she has friends, what is Natalie willing to do for them?
  • Scott is crazy smart but also something of a naive goof ball. He doesn’t realize some of the guys in his class aren’t teasing him because they like him. They are mocking him.
  • Trevor doesn’t care about much more than cutting up with his friends at school and steering clear of his older brother and his crew at home. Those guys have always told Trevor he was a mistake. And Trevor has started to believe them.

In the middle of these individual stories, there’s the larger story of a class of 6th graders, their teachers/administrators, and the state standardized tests. As the kids lose more and more of what has made the year special to make space for test prep, they become more and more desperate to ace the test and put it behind them. Whatever it takes.


Wow, this was FANTASTIC! I loved all the kids – well, the punkish one won me over in the end. Their concerns and actions felt genuine. I cared about them from the first page. The adults were fantastic, too – not perfect by any means. But they felt real, and they were trying to do the right things (even when they failed to).

I loved the author’s previous series about another teacher, Mr. Terupt, and his students. But because it’s so special, I worried that this wouldn’t live up to it. My worry was unnecessary. This was a delight to read from start to finish. Buyea does an awesome job with this format of a handful of kids telling the story. Each has a distinct voice and style. It’s great. There’s so much more nuance to the story than just the test at the center of the plot. Every part of it worked for me. I was thrilled to hear that he’s already been working on a sequel.

Many thanks to Delacorte books and Netgalley for an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Sisters of Sugarcreek

REVIEW: The Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett


Lydia lost her husband, a volunteer firefighter, in the fire at Faith Community Church. But even more, she lost her anchor to everything. Henry was a private man. He did everything around the house himself except cook and garden, which Lydia did. They didn’t have neighbors over often, and they never lingered after church. They lived a quiet life, and Lydia was often alone. Without Henry, she’s adrift and feeling out of her depth.

Jessica lost her Aunt Rose in the fire. Rose had raised her as a child when she lost her parents. She welcomed her back as a young pregnant woman when her marriage fell apart. Now Jessica owns Rose’s craft store, Rose’s Knit One Quilt Two Cottage. But Jessica doesn’t knit or quilt. She’s not prepared to run a store like this. She’s definitely in over her head.

Liz is grieving Rose’s death, too. Her best friend and partner in “crime.” Rose and Liz had started a secret encouragement ministry, leaving food and handcrafted items for folks in need of a little hope. She talks Jessica into helping her keep it going. And Lydia is going to be their first recipient.


This was delightful. Each of the three main characters was strong and interesting in her own right. There wasn’t a part of the trio that sagged. The pieces of their stories wove into each other’s well. The romantic pairings were obvious from the outset, but I enjoyed the story so much I didn’t care if that was predictable.

I have not had a lot of luck with finding Christian fiction I love. I have a few “go to” books that I read over and over, but otherwise I find the stories or characters can be flat or the message feels heavy-handed. This was NOT the case here. The faith pieces made sense where they entered the story. It felt natural. I didn’t feel like the author was trying to make a point. She just told a great story about people of faith.

This was excellent. I will be adding it to my small collection of Christian Fiction mainstays and telling others about this great story!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

REVIEW: Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch


Mabel’s parents are spies. Specifically, they  are “Cleaners.” They go in after another spy leaves a problem in the course of their work. Mabel loves that they do such cool, important work. But she likes it even better when they’re home. Then, she and her mom work in the family’s collectible spoon museum. Her dad works on phone lines in Mount Rainier National Park. When her parents are home, her Aunt Gertie doesn’t have to leave Mabel “pity” cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

When Mabel’s parents get called away on a new mission, Aunt Gertie doesn’t show up to stay with Mabel. She wakes up to her horrible Uncle Frank and Aunt Stella and torturous cousin, Victoria, instead. Mabel’s own spy senses know something is really wrong. Gertie has been arrested. Frank and Stella are beyond desperate to get into the spoon museum, and a Washington Border Patrol agent insists that Mabel’s family members are thieves. Mabel will have to follow her 36 Rules for a Successful Life as an Undercover Secret Agent to figure out what is really going on!


I was hooked after the first chapter! Mabel has a terrific “voice.” She’s smart. She’s a reader. She puts her family first (even if it means distancing herself from potential friends in order to protect her secrets). The first chapter introduces us to a lot of the main players and sets up the story without feeling like an information dump. The author does a fantastic job of moving the reader forward, balancing new questions with backstory in just the right portions.

The mystery is great. Mabel’s response to the events feel realistic for a kid her age. There are several questions left unanswered, so I hope that means there will be a sequel!

This book made me giddy! It was a perfect book for me – a smart and resourceful main character, a terrific mystery, and a fun, engaging story. I loved it from start to finish. The Nathan Fillion reference in the back matter solidified this author in my “favorites” department.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Capstone for providing an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying oct1

BOOK NEWS: September 26, 2017

Christmas books, biographies, mysteries and a chicken! It’s the final week of September. Here are some of the new books coming this week.

Books for Kids

Bruce’s Big Move – The stars of Mother Bruce and Hotel Bruce are back! I adore these characters and can’t wait to read this!
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes – Part of the Amazing Scientists line of books. This is a picture book biography of Dr. Patricia Bath, a scientist who developed a revolutionary treatment for cataracts.
I Want to Go First – From the author of This Book Just Ate My Dog! comes this book about a little elephant who is tired of always going last.
Pig the Elf – Pig the Pug gets a Christmas story! This series is adorable and I can’t wait to read this Christmas story.
Tyrannosaurus Rex Vs Edna The Very First Chicken – It’s T Rex vs. Chicken in this new picture book. I want to read this one so badly! It looks awesome.
Christmas in Cooperstown – A second special edition from the Ballpark Mystery series, this Christmas book takes place at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Awesome for baseball fans! Great early chapter book series.
The Last Firehawk: The Ember Stone – A new Branches series kicks off with this book about three small friends trying to defeat an evil vulture who wants to conquer the world with dark magic.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Day Dreams and Movie Screens – Book 2 in the Faithgirlz series Lena in the Spotlight. You can see my review of book one here. In this book, Lena’s movie debuts, and she has to deal with her new found fame.
Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying (Sept 30) – This is one of my favorite books in 2017! I will be reviewing this mystery tomorrow here on the blog. Come back and read all about it.
Nutcracked – A magical take on the story of the Nutcracker! Perfect for the holiday season.
Ordinary Mishaps and Incredible Catastrophes – Book 2 in the Frazzled graphic novel series about navigating middle school.
Pick the Plot – Book 4 in the Story Thieves series. I really need to bump this series up on my TBR list because every time a new book releases, I remember how much I want to read it!
Who Killed Darius Drake? – A bully and a genius orphan team up to to find the truth behind the mystery of a long-lost diamond necklace. I love a great middle grade mystery so this is on my list.
Wishtree – Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan and Crenshaw. Her new book, about a tree that sees the wishes of the people in its neighborhood, is getting a LOT of buzz.
The Short History of the Girl Next Door – A teen can’t seem to  tell his best friend how he really feels about her. Real life is just not like the movies. And when tragedy strikes, Matt is left reeling. I have already requested this one from the library.

Books for Adults

Barking Up the Wrong Tree – Book 2 in a romance trio by mystery great, Jenn McKinlay. You can read my review of book one here. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
Dead and Ganache – Book 4 in the Chocolate Whisperer Mystery series. They had me at chocolate on this one. I have this series on my TBR list!
Death by Eggnog – Book 5 in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series. I haven’t read any of these, but the whole series looks darling. This is on my TBR, too.
Dial Meow for Murder – Book 2 in the Lucky Paws Mystery series. You can read my review of book one here. I really enjoyed the first book, so I want to be sure to read this one.
Holly and Ivy – A lonely widow meets a young girl with a great gift in this holiday story. I can’t get enough of Christmas books in the fall. This is definitely on my list for this year’s reading.
Mousse, Moscato & Murder – Book 3 in the Willa Friday Food and Wine Cozy Mystery series. I haven’t read the other books in this series yet, but the cover of this one grabbed my attention.
The Persian Always Meows Twice – This is the first book in the Cat Groomer mystery series about a cat groomer who gets caught up in a murder. A second book is scheduled for a spring 2018 release.
Purring Around the Christmas Tree – Book 6 in the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series about the owner of an organic pet food store. I love the idea of this series and the fact that this particular one has a Christmas slant to it. I hope to get to this one this fall.
Sleep Like a Baby – Book 10 in the Aurora Teagarden mystery series. I haven’t read any of these, but I have enjoyed the movies on the Hallmark Channel. I’d like to try one of the books to see how it holds up with the the movies.
Star Trek Discovery: Desperate Hours – An original novel based on the new CBS All Access show. Of all the fandoms I adore, Star Trek is at the top of my list. I have high hopes for the new series, but I am not sure if we will subscribe in order to check it out.  I may just read the book instead. The book’s author is a long-time Star Trek author, so I have a lot of confidence that the story will be terrific.
Star Trek Deep Space 9 Gamma: Original Sin – Captain Sisko and the crew of the USS Robinson are exploring the Gamma Quadrant. This book picks up 3 months into their mission when they encounter their first alien species.
Sugar Pine Trail – Book 7 in the Haven Point series. A librarian finds herself taking care of two young boys at Christmas time. And her handsome neighbor pitches in. This is on my list of holiday books to read this fall!
Binge Parenting – The Baby Blues series of comics are hilarious. While this book would work for kids, some of the content would be much funnier for parents. One of the authors also does work on the Zits comic strip.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies – This biography looks at a World War I and World War II code breaker, Elizebeth Smith. This is a story I’ve never heard before and it sounds fascinating!

Murder, Magic and What We Wore

REVIEW: Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones


Annis Whitworth has been raised by her Aunt Cassia, who cared for her when her mother became sick while her father traveled for work. Annis has long suspected that her father was a spy. And that seems to be confirmed when his lawyer arrives, talking in code and announcing that her father is dead.

Annis isn’t convinced that her father died in an accident. The facts don’t line up. And she finds a message in the handkerchiefs that are among her father’s things. But when she cannot get anyone to take her seriously, she is determined to figure things out for herself. But all of her father’s money has disappeared. Annis and her aunt have nothing to live off of. But Annis discovers that she can do magic – she can sew glamours and change garments into other items when she sews. So Annis is going to put her magic – and her mind – to work to save her country, save what’s left of her family, and discover what really happened to her father.


This was a delight from start to finish. The story holds up well as historical fiction and also as a mystery. The magical elements are a nice twist. They give this story something special to set it apart. An extra layer of awesome.

Annis and her maid, Millie, are fantastic as a team. But the author makes sure the reader doesn’t forget their differences in station and what assets and liabilities they each bring  to the partnership. There are some great nuances to their relationship.

While I figured out the mystery well before the end, there were several little twists and reveals left to come. Overall the full solution and wrap up was thorough and satisfying. There are a lot of ways to continue this as a series – more adventures for Annis and Millie and others to have in this time period and more to develop on the magic side of the story.

I will absolutely read any additional books in this series because I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to Knopf Books and Netgalley for providing an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review. It was a treat to read this book!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

Christmas Peril spt8

REVIEW: A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus


Edwina “Sully” Sullivan took an early retirement as a police office and is now the general manager of her home town theater.  Days before their annual performance of A Christmas Carol, Sully’s cousin and friend becomes the lead suspect in his father’s murder. Sully knows she should keep her focus on the play. Her headlining star can’t remember his lines and her Jacob Marley has just quit. But the police instincts and investigative skills are still strong. And the Whitehall family has asked for her help.

This is an incredibly complicated case. Only a small group of people could have committed the murder – and most of those people are members of the family. Even if Sully is technically family herself, she is enough of an outsider that it’s hard to get all the facts on the case. Discovering her ex is the family’s lawyer only complicates things further. But Sully is determined to get to the bottom of this case one way or another.


This is the first book in the “Theater Cop” mystery series. I thoroughly enjoyed this set up – a former cop running a theater program. The theater gives the reader interesting characters and some fun distractions from the main mystery. I also enjoyed the murder set up. I’ve read the “wealthy family, dead patriarch” sort of set up several times, and I find those sorts of stories fascinating. There are so many interesting things the author can do with the family members in a story like that.

There were a LOT of characters in this one. Thankfully, the personalities were strong and clear, so it was easy to keep track of everyone. Sully is a great character. She’s smart and likable. And she works hard to keep some semblance of boundaries with the police on the case and the family.

The mystery was really engaging. I could not puzzle everything out before the end, and I didn’t want to put it down until I finished so I would know the whole story. I still had some questions at the end – things I didn’t think were spelled out as clearly as I would have liked. Otherwise I would have given this 5 stars. Sully is a character that will bring me back for book 2; she’s a character I would definitely spend more time with.

Thanks to the awesome folks at Midnight Ink and Netgalley for an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker

REVIEW: Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes


Beatrice Zinker is an unusual child. She prefers to live life upside down. Hanging from trees or bunk beds, tipping over to see how things look from another perspective. Beatrice is happy to be unusual, even if it makes her sister say “Oh no” and her mom say “Now what?” with some regularity.

Beatrice becomes pretty well known for her unique approach to life. Her second grade teacher even gives her an award at the end of the year for being the “Best Upside Down Thinker.” And this gives Beatrice a great idea for a secret mission for 3rd grade with her best friend, Lenny.

But on the first day of third grade, nothing goes the way Beatrice planned. Lenny doesn’t wear her ninja outfit, and she has a new friend from her neighborhood. Chloe wants to play veterinarian, and Lenny wants to do that rather than help Beatrice. What’s going to happen to the secret mission now?


This is a cute transitional chapter book for kids learning to read longer-than-picture-book stories. Beatrice is a sweet character (the illustrations for this book are absolutely darling), earnest, and completely committed to seeing the world in her own unique way.

Stories like this often have main characters feeling left out, afraid of losing a friend, wondering if she should change to keep her friend. While Beatrice does feel left out and tries some things to keep connected to both Lenny and Chloe, she never questions who she is. Which is awesome! Beatrice is determined to be true to herself AND keep her friend. There’s a great lesson there.

This will make for a good early elementary series. Beatrice’s teacher has her hands full but will hopefully come to appreciate Beatrice like her second grade teacher did. The secret mission is great, and I’m eager to see how that develops in future books.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥½



One Dark Throne

BOOK NEWS: September 19, 2017

Happy Blogiversary to me!

One year ago this week, I kicked off The Neverending TBR, and I’ve had so much fun tracking new releases and reviewing amazing books. I hope you have found some great treasures as you spent time here in the last year.

On to the new releases for this week!

Books for Kids

Her Right Foot – This ingenious nonfiction book looks at the Statue of Liberty from the perspective of her foot, sculpted in motion. I can’t wait to read this one!
It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk – The Jack in this story has NO interest in following the narrator’s instructions to sell his cow and climb a beanstalk! This time Jack is taking his story into his own hands. This reminds me of one of my favorite fractured fairy tales, Don’t Read this Book! I can’t wait to check this one out!
Read! Read! Read! – Twenty-three poems about reading!
JoJo and Daddy Bake a Cake – Fancy Nancy’s little sister gets her own Early Readers, including this story about baking with her dad.
Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker – This early chapter book stars Beatrice Zinker, a girl who has a unique perspective on the world – she prefers to look at it upside down. This makes her a very creative thinker. I’ll be reviewing this book tomorrow!
Jada Jones Rock Star AND Jada Jones Class Act – New transitional chapter book series. Book one focuses on Jada’s love of science and rocks and minerals, as well as some social issues at school. Book two focuses on her desire to be class representative and her fear of public speaking. This looks like a darling series!
Lark and the Diamond Caper – Book 2 in this series starring junior detectives searching for a missing pair of diamond earrings. I love mysteries for any age reader!

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults

Falcon Wild – A girl who longs to be a certified falconer has to use all of her knowledge and skill to survive an accident and get help for her injured and trapped family.
No Place Like Home – A girl who has lived most of her life on the move with her dad for his job gets the chance to settle in for a little while, go to public school, and make some friends. Figuring they will be moving on soon, though, she decides to take some risks instead of playing everything safe. I love the whole line of MIX books from Aladdin, and this book sounds like my style of story.
Quests for Glory – Book 4 in the School for Good and Evil series. The students embark on their required fourth year quests where some are trying to return Camelot to its former glory and others find themselves in over their heads. Fans of this series will love to hear that there’s a fourth book to devour!
Renegades – Book 3 in the Randoms series. Poor Zeke seems to be in more trouble than ever. Whatever he does to save the galaxy (and get the girl) only seems to get him in more trouble. And this time, he doesn’t have any of his usual allies to help him. Our whole family has enjoyed the first two books in this series, and we will most definitely be reading book 3!
Saving Marty – A boy adopts a runty pig as his pet. The pig thinks he’s a dog, and acts accordingly, but when he reaches 350 lbs, it’s hard to pretend he’s a normal pet. This is described as “heart-wrenching” which makes me nervous about the pig’s future, but I HAVE to know what happens in this story.
The Way to Bea – A girl facing monumental changes writes haiku in invisible ink in a secret spot. Then someone writes back. I have wanted to read this since I first saw the cover. This is exactly the sort of book that I love!
Trolled – Book 3 in the Enchanted Files. Ned the Troll knows he is supposed to despise humans. But Ned just can’t do that; his heart is full of LOVE. This sounds fantastic! I will be putting the first two books on my library list asap so I can check out this fun fantasy series.
Rainy Day Unicorn Fun – A puzzle book from the Phoebe and her Unicorn folks. I ADORE the graphic novel books in this series – in fact the next one releases in October. I’m looking forward to checking out this activity book. It might be just what I need to keep in the car or in my purse for when I am waiting for an appointment, and I don’t want to bring along a book.
Jane Unlimited – A grieving teen accepts an invitation to the mysterious island Tu Reviens where she will have the chance to make different choices for her life. This author wrote the wildly popular Graceling (which of course is on my TBR shelves), so this is getting a lot of buzz.
Moxie: A Novel – A high schooler, fed up with the double standard, starts a feminist zine that becomes more popular than she could have ever imagined. This is probably at the top of my wish list for the week. This sounds like a terrific, girl-power sort of story, and I love to read those.
Murder, Magic and What We Wore – A young woman discovers her father is dead and his money is missing so she becomes a spy and learns that she has a magical affinity for sewing glamours. This is a hard story to summarize. Come back on Thursday when I will be reviewing this one and you can find out a little more. It’s terrific!
One Dark Throne – EEEEK! Okay, I was wrong – THIS will be top of my list for the week (Moxie is a close second). I absolutely loved Three Dark Crowns last fall – you can read my review here. After a long wait, the sequel is arriving this week. By the time I get it from the library, I hope to have re-read book one so I am fresh and ready to enjoy book 2.
The Victoria in My Head – A girl daydreams of being a rock star, but her very real life and insecurities make that dream almost impossible. I love this idea of throwing caution to the wind and just running after your dream. I do not have that sort of personality, so I am happy to enjoy it vicariously through books.

Books for Adults

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do – Morin takes her original premise from 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do and applies it this time to parenting. I have her first book, and would love to read this one as well!
Bean to Bar Chocolate – I have no idea what the “American craft chocolate revolution” is, but I don’t even care. This is about chocolate. I’d love to read it. Includes recipes.
Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s In You for Your Family and Your Faith – Helping moms grow strong in their faith and their identity in Christ so they can pass that strength onto their children. If I wasn’t so overloaded on Bible Studies and self-improvement books right now, I would have this on my list immediately. I love the whole idea of this – especially the Bible Study piece. This is one I may revisit in another season of life.
Becoming MomStrong Bible Study – Six week Bible study based on the book. There’s also a matching journal so you can keep your notes and thoughts together as you go through the material.
Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode their Behavior, Develop Unshakable Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult – Parenting a teen is hard work. I am always in the market for a book that will give me new insights and strategies to make these the best years as a family. This isn’t just for parents, either. This works for any adult committed to a strong relationship with a teen – youth workers, mentors, teachers, pastors.
Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything – If you find personality differences and types and strengths and such fascinating – and I DO! – you’ll want to check this one out.
Sally’s Cookie Addiction – I’m not much for cooking. It seems like standing in the kitchen forever for something my family will finish in less than 20 minutes. I could use that time to read! But I generally enjoy baking. So a book like this – with lots of baking suggestions – would be a lot of fun for me. Cookies are great treats – small, easy to share, and they make great gifts for teachers, friends, pitch-ins, etc.
Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years – Former speechwriter for President Obama shares stories of his time in the White House.

Princess Juniper of Torr

REVIEW: Princess Juniper of Torr by Ammi-Joan Paquette


Princess Juniper has enjoyed quite an adventure. She requested a small country to practice ruling, and her father gave her Queen’s Basin. Her band of kid-citizens has created a cooperative community there, and Juniper has learned a lot about leadership. She even made contact with her mother’s people, the Anju.

But it’s time to leave Queen’s Basin and return to Torr. The Monsians have invaded, and Juniper’s father, King Regis has been captured. So Juniper and her friends have a plan to return to Torr and set things right. Can a group of kids have any hope of saving a kingdom? Did Cyril leave to warn his father, the one who let the Monsians into Torr? Or could he still be on Juniper’s side? Will the Anju help Juniper save the day? Or is she be completely on her own to rescue her father and save her people from war?


Great conclusion to the Princess Juniper trilogy! Juniper has grown up a lot in the weeks that she has been on her own. She’s built confidence in herself and in her team.

There are some nice twists still to come in this story as people vie for power in Torr. Things move faster than Juniper expects and not everyone is who she thought they were. And that increases the tension and pacing of the story nicely.

Everything’s wrapped up neatly for fans of the series with this book. A satisfying conclusion for Juniper and the people of both Queen’s Basin and Torr.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Doom with a View

REVIEW: Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury


Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris, have finally opened their bed and breakfast after some trouble with a skeleton and a fire. Now they have their first set of guests, the elderly members of a book club who live near Portland.

This kick off week is going to be great! They have a new assistant, Cindi, to help with serving breakfast and cleaning the rooms while Melanie and Liza do the cooking. Cindi even gets her boyfriend to be a magician for their Halloween party. It’s going to be a great event.

But when one of their guests falls through sabotaged railings on the balcony, the local lead detective arrives at the Merry Ghost Inn with his usual gruff demeanor (Liza calls him “Grumpy”). He warns Melanie and Liza to stay out of his case. But they need their B&B to succeed. That means solving the mystery and getting their home and business back to normal. And they have their resident ghost, Orville, to help them again.


This is the first Merry Ghost Inn book – book 2 in the series – I have read. It was easy to get into the story even without having read book one. Most of the action centered around their current guests, which will change with each book. The locals who are likely series regulars are well-defined in the story, even for a second book, so I was able to dig into the story right away. I like this because it means anyone can pick up the series and feel at home even if they didn’t get to the books in order.

The mystery was good. From the start there were several suspects but few clues to start eliminating anyone. I was eventually able to figure out the solution before the end, which is always satisfying.

I liked the main characters, but I didn’t click with them. They are completely likable; I have no complaints. I just didn’t feel drawn into their lives. Maybe that is the draw back of reading book 2 before the first one. Maybe I would have felt more connected by being introduced to the characters in the introduction to the series.

There are some interesting story lines that are laid out and go beyond this particular book, arching through the entire series. But I’m not sure I was hooked enough into the characters to come back to see how those threads work out. I have read paranormal stories before, but the ghost hook here didn’t grab my attention. I wasn’t turned off by it, or by the “seance” in the story, but those pieces didn’t distinguish this story for me from others in the genre. Again, I wonder if this is a drawback of starting with book two. The characters and the ghostly pieces might work better for readers who start from the beginning of the series.

Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥